It’s been a strange ride for AJ Pollock during his tenure in Los Angeles.
During the regular season, Pollock has been one of the more underrated players in all of baseball. In his three seasons with the Dodgers, the outfielder has posted an OPS of .856 with 52 home runs in 258 games. His numbers are borderline All-Star level.
Then, for whatever reason, a switch goes off in the postseason and he looks nothing like his regular season self. Through his first 26 games in the playoffs for the Dodgers, Pollock was hitting .171 with an OPS of .446. He struck out in exactly 33 percent of his plate appearances and didn’t have a single home run.
His lack of production has led to him being benched on numerous occasions, including this postseason. After being a staple of the Dodgers offense during the regular season, manager Dave Roberts opted to have Pollock on the bench instead of in the lineup during their 2021 postseason run.
Well, something flipped recently, because Pollock has caught fire and looks like his regular season self. Over his last three games, Pollock is 5-for-9 with two home runs and has driven in six runs. Over his previous 76 postseason at bats he had zero home runs and four runs driven in.
After being a consistent starter all season, Pollock had to accept being benched in the biggest games of the season. Just like the pro he is, he did it with no problem, knowing he’ll likely be needed later in the game at some point.
“Just playing for the guys in whatever role is asked of me,” Pollock said following Thursday’s game. “Yeah, that’s pretty much it, just playing for your teammates.”
Pollock had a big game in San Francisco for Game 2 of the NLDS, as he drove in two runs and had two hits. Still, the postseason was looking like yet another struggle for him. Through his first seven games in October, Pollock was hitting .182 with an OPS of .490 to go along with nine strikeouts.
It was Game 3 in the NLCS in which things changed for him. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Pollock was at the plate with a runner on first and one out. The Dodgers trailed by three runs. With two strikes, Pollock singled up the middle, bringing Cody Bellinger up to the plate. Well, we all know what happened next.
In Game 4, Pollock stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. He delivered a two-run single, providing LA’s only offense of the night.
Then in Game 5, Pollock had the best game of his postseason career. He hit not one, but two home runs. His first home run (in my opinion) was the biggest hit on the night for the Dodgers. After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, Pollock’s home run was able to provide a spark to the offense. I definitely think by waking up the crowd and the dugout, the Dodgers were able to build off that.
His second home run came in the eighth inning when the game was already out of reach, but we saw something we normally don’t see from Pollock. After crushing the homer, he dropped his bat and slowly began to walk to first base, admiring his homer. It’s rare we see that kind of emotion from Pollock.
“Yeah, it’s fun,” Pollock said of his bat drop. “We take so many swings and we’re working so hard so when something goes right it’s a fun thing. So it was good. CT was getting me jealous, multiple homers, so it motivated me.”
Cocky AJ Pollock is here and I absolutely love it pic.twitter.com/57D0fNOudY— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) October 22, 2021
It’s been a long and bumpy ride for Pollock in the postseason. Hopefully for him and the team, we can expect more of this from him moving forward.